World Music Institute & Met Museum Present NRITYAGRAM, 1/10

World Music Institute, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, presents two back-to-back performances from the world-renowned Indian dance troupeNrityagram on Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. in the Met's Temple of Dendur, located in the The Sackler Wing.

The program of solos and duets features the US premiere of Shyamala Vandana, a song dedicated to Goddess Shyamala and composed by Pandit Bhubaneswar Mishra,chosen to honor the evening's site-specific setting. The program continues with two pieces from Nrityagram's critically acclaimed Sa?yoga and Songs of Love and Longing,which are set to an original live score composed by Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi.

With its sculptural forms, sinuous movements, and emotional intensity, Odissi-one of the oldest dance traditions in the world-speaks of love and union with the divine. Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy, the principal dancers of Nrityagram, transport viewers to enchanted worlds of magic and spirituality with their grace and power.

"Only decades of single-minded devotion could explain the perfection of each of these artists alone. Only decades of shared practice could account for their uncanny coordination together," wrote Brian Seibert in The New York Times in the 2013 premiere of Samyoga at the World Music Institute.

The performances are free with admission to the Met Museum and are presented in conjunction with the exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al?Thani Collection, on view October 28, 2014-January 25, 2015.


This event is the final of three collaborations this season between the World Music Institute and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, who are enjoying a recently formed and ongoing relationship. In addition to Nrityagram on January 10, performances included the opening concert with Mali's Ngoni master Bassekou Kouyate on October 30, and a rare New York appearance from virtuoso Indian vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty on November 14.


Upcoming Concerts:

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan (4/10 at Symphony Space):
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan is a seventh-generation sitar maestro from the illustriousEtawah Gharana (school), a centuries-old musical dynasty dating back to the moghul courts. He learned his craft from his father, Ustad Aziz Khan, and became a child prodigy, debuting at age eight. In addition to being an inspiring performer, he is a dedicated guru. He will be joined by the dazzling Pandit Anindo Chatterjee on tabla.


The Nrityagram dance village is located outside Bangalore, India. It was founded in 1990 by Odissi dancer Protima Gauri, who converted ten acres of farmland into a setting for the study, practice and teaching of dance.

At Nrityagram, dance is a way of life. Reminiscent of ancient ashrams where gurus imparted not only technique but also a philosophy of being, this is a creative space where dancers, musicians and choreographers live together, sharing their skills and developing their art. To enrich their practice, dancers are also taught yoga and martial arts along with Sanskrit and classical literature. As knowledge passes from guru to disciple, the continuity of the classical arts is ensured.

For almost two decades, Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy have researched and expanded the dance vocabulary of Odissi dance and have developed a style that distinguishes the dancers of the Nrityagram School. A unique blend of traditional knowledge with contemporary understanding and application makes Nrityagram the only institution of its kind in the world.

The outside world, too, is an integral part of Nrityagram. Choreographers, movement specialists, sculptors, painters, writers, musicians and theatre practitioners from all over the world frequently visit the village to perform and conduct workshops and seminars in their areas of practice.

Vasantahabba, Nrityagram's annual dusk to dawn festival of music and dance, has a roster which includes some of the greatest names in India. It is attended by over 40,000 enthusiastic spectators streaming in from surrounding villages and beyond.

While Vasantahabba is Nrityagram's most public interface, everyday artistic practice connects with the larger world through initiatives like Kula, which is both a conceptual and a physical space for artistic collaboration, synergy and conversation. In order to nurture the sustained cross-pollination of artistic work and dialogue among artists, it offers a self-contained residential facility in the Nrityagram campus. Since November 2010, Kula has already hosted almost two hundred writers, musicians, dancers, actors and other artists.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, Nrityagram's repertory company, is regarded as one of the foremost dance companies of India, performing all over the world including an annual tour to the United States.

Although steeped in and dedicated to ancient practice, the Ensemble is also committed to carrying Indian dance into the twenty-first century. Enabled by grants from the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, and more recently from The Joyce Theater, New York, Nrityagram's dancers not only explore creative expansions of tradition but are also able to commission fresh compositions from leading Indian classical musicians.


Artistic Director, Choreographer, Soloist

Surupa Sen was the first student to graduate from Nrityagram. She began her Odissi training with the late body language genius and architect of Odissi, Guru Kelucharan Mahapatra. She also studied Odissi with Protima Gauri, and Abhinaya (expressional dance) with Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan.

As a child she studied Bharatanatyam to which she attributes her pre-occupation with form and line. Attracted to choreography from her first exposure to western makers of dances, she has worked with dancers and choreographers from across the world. Surupa has performed, in solo recitals and ensemble, all over India and the world.

Her first evening-length choreographic work, S?ri?: In Search of the Goddess (2000), consisted of both a non-traditional suite (Night, Fire, Dialogue with Death) and a re-working of traditional dance (Srimati, Srimayi, and Sridevi).

Her next production Ansh (2004) was a reworking of a typical Odissi recital, which toured extensively in India and the United States including a run at the Joyce Theater, New York.Sacred Space (2006), a show based on Temple Architecture and its relationship to dance, used an expanded traditional Odissi vocabulary and toured the US for six months including a weeks run at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival and the Spoleto Festival.

Pratima?: Reflection (2008) an evening-length work that explores the relationship between the dancer and her dance, was commissioned by the Joyce Theater's Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for New Work and premiered in February of 2008 at the Joyce Theater, New York. Vibhakta, from Pratima?: Reflection, was listed in "The 10 best dance performances of 2008" by The New Yorker.

Surupa's newest Ensemble work, Sam?ha?ra (2012) was Nrityagram's first international collaboration. Together with Sri Lanka's Chitrasena Dance Company it explores the meeting point between the sensuousness of Nrityagram's Odissi and the masculine dynamism of the Chitrasena's Kandyan dance. Sam?ha?ra was premiered in Bangalore in February 2012, toured the United States in 2012 and 2013 and was performed extensively in India, Sri Lanka and other parts of Asia. Sam?ha?ra was nominated for TWO Bessie Awards: Outstanding Production and Outstanding Sound Design

Surupa received the Raza Foundation Award in 2006, the Yagnaraman Award in 2008 and the prestigious Nritya Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai in 2011.


Director of Dance Education, Soloist

Bijayini Satpathy made Nrityagram her home in 1993. Her initial Odissi training was in Odisha from the age of 7, until she moved to Nrityagram. She has worked with Surupa Sen, ever since.

Bijayini's research on the moving body in all its possibilities has resulted in a scientific body training programme for Nrityagram, sourced from Yoga, Natyashastra, Kalaripayattu, Western fitness methods and Odissi body-conditioning exercises. This makes practice of dance injury- proof and increases the performance life-span of a dancer. She has also developed an expanded, systematic and accessible training programme for Odissi dancers, which is equally valuable for beginners, advanced learners, performers and Teachers.

Bijayini has performed alone, and with the ensemble, all over the world and has received national and international recognition including the 2003 Mahari Award given to the best Odissi dancer of the year, the Sanskriti award in 2007 and Sangeet Natak Akademi's Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2007. In 2011 she received the prestigious Nritya Choodamani from Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Chennai.

As Director Dance Education, Bijayini works on extending the vocabulary of the traditional form and formulating Nrityagram's dance pedagogy. She is also responsible for all outreach activities.


"a widely copied and influential force in New York cultural circles."
- The New York Times
World Music Institute is a not-for-profit concert presenting organization founded in 1985 by Robert and Helene Browning and dedicated to the presentation of the finest in traditional and contemporary music and dance from around the world.

WMI encourages cultural exchange between nations and ethnic groups and collaborates with community organizations and academic institutions in fostering greater understanding of the world's cultural traditions. WMI works extensively with community groups and organizations including Indian, Iranian, Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Hungarian, Irish, and Central Asian. This has enabled it to be at the forefront of planning and presenting the finest ensembles from these countries.

WMI presents a full season of concerts each year in New York City, and arranges national tours by visiting musicians from abroad, as well as US-based artists. WMI's accomplishments and expertise in its field are recognized by major institutions throughout the US and internationally.

WMI has brought many musical, dance and ritual traditions to the New York stage for the first time, including Laotian sung poetry, folk music of Khorason and Bushehr (Iran), songs of the Yemenite Jews, Bardic divas of Central Asia, trance ceremonies from Morocco, music from Madagascar, and Theyyams (masked dances) of Kerala, South India. Many artists have been given their U.S. or New York debuts by WMI.

Surupa Sen and Bijayini Satpathy; Photo Credit: Nan Melville

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